Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 10th October

Genius Idea Of The Week
Nick Paumgarten writes about record producer Scott Litt, New Yorker, October 1st.
When Scott Litt built a recording studio in the back of his house, in Venice, California, seven years ago, he did it with Bob Dylan in mind. He pictured Dylan sitting there at the Hammond organ, accompanied by nothing but drums and a standup bass. Or maybe in an arrangement featuring a banjo and a trumpet. “I always imagined him having a Louis Armstrong Hello, Dolly sound,” Litt said the other day. “Musically, that’s as American as it gets.” [Sadly, when Litt was hired to engineer Bob’s latest, Tempest, and] …got up the nerve to mention his idea, it didn’t go over very well. [Bob] just went, “Heh heh heh—Hello Dolly.”

This, From The Very Wonderful “Letters Of Note”
In 1919 [at which point he was just 9 years old] Samuel Barber wrote the following letter to his mother and left it on his desk for her to find. She did, and a year later Barber began to compose his first opera, The Rose Tree. He was still only 26 years of age when, in 1936, he finished his most famous work, Adagio for Strings.
“NOTICE to Mother and nobody else
Dear Mother: I have written this to tell you my worrying secret. Now don’t cry when you read it because it is neither yours nor my fault. I suppose I will have to tell it now without any nonsense. To begin with I was not meant to be an athlet [sic]. I was meant to be a composer, and will be I’m sure. I’ll ask you one more thing.—Don’t ask me to try to forget this unpleasant thing and go play football.—Please—Sometimes I’ve been worrying about this so much that it makes me mad (not very),
Love,
Sam Barber II

Roll On, John
Stanley Reynolds’ piece for The Guardian, 3 June 1963, reprinted this week: “Inside the club, down CND symbol smeared walls to a dark and bronchial cave, the dancers have originated the Cavern Stomp, because they did not have room enough to twist. In the dressing room off stage a steady flow of rock artistes come to talk with Mr Bob Wooler, the Cavern’s full-time disc jockey whose visiting card tells you, with Dickensian charm, that he is “a rhythm and blues consultant.” That is The Cavern, duffel coats and feigned boredom. On tour it is like a Hollywood success story. At the Odeon, Manchester, in the Beatles’ dressing room, the four boys were asking a reporter from a disc magazine to please see if she could do something to stop girls from sending them jelly babies. She had once said they liked them. “We’ve got two ton of them now,” John Lennon said. “Tell them to send us E-type Jaguars or button-down shirts.” Someone came in and said two girls had won them in a contest. “Just who are these girls who won us?” John Lennon asked. “I mean, how long have they won us for.”

“Hear What I’m Saying, I’m Not Saying It Right”
Random Acts [a series of short films chosen for their bold and original expressions of creativity] Channel 4.
Comedian and poet Sean Mahoney, directed by Jeremy Cole. An age-old subject, a harrington jacket, a little bit of Mike Skinner in the delivery. Vulnerable and sharp at the same time. A talent. Lovely.

Record Cover Of The Week

Paris flea market purchase. Just listened to. As you’d expect, The Surfaris via St Malo.

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 8th August

Killing Me Softly With Their Song
Now the second season of The Killing has come to an end I’ll hear no more the striking and enigmatic theme, my favourite piece of tv music. Some Great Detectiveness (© Bob Burden’s genius Flaming Carrot) leads me to find that it was written by a couple of London-based musicians (see Alabama 3/The Sopranos for similar US tv/London-based musician interface). Richard File and Wendy Rae Fowler perform as We Fell To Earth—name and logo influenced by the Nic Roeg/David Bowie film The Man Who Fell To Earth. I resolve to find out more…

Readers/Writers
Aditya Chakrabortty in The Guardian: This week Aditya read David Remnick’s profile of Bruce Springsteen. “Is it a sign of age when you read a music piece not because you like the singer, but the journalist?” I don’t think it is. My guide to the quality of writing in a magazine has always been the same—how many pieces have I read here that are about subjects that are of no, or little, interest to me. The higher the number, the better the writing.

Desert Island Discs 1; Saro by Sam Amidon.
In the performance with Bill Frisell live at the Poisson Rouge on Vimeo. Sam essays the song’s chords on an old dustbowl-dull Martin, a professorial Frisell to his left as they take this beautiful ballad for a stroll down by a clear flowing stream. Frisell is such an inspirational player, and, playing off Sam’s elegant and affecting plainsong, wraps his fearless, serpentine lines around the vocal. It’s a wonderfully openhearted performance, and Bill’s smile at the end treasurable.

The Musical Life, New Yorker, July 23
Watts said the difference between playing jazz in clubs and playing rock and roll with the Stones was the volume. “Also in jazz you’re closer,” he said. “In a football stadium, you can’t say you’re closely knit together. It’s difficult to know what Mick’s up to when you can’t even see him. He’s gone around the corner and he’s half a mile away.”—Alec Wilkinson

Olympic Music
The BBC have pulled out their Battles and xx mp3s with a vengeance for the Olympics, tracking short films about the rowers or cyclists with choice selections, but the overwhelming memory of music at the Games will be Vangelis’ bloody Chariots Of Fire. At first I thought the IOC and LOGOC had just done away with the National Anthems altogether in the Medal Ceremonies and gone with the uplifting, glorious and triumphant™ Britfilm classic, but it turns out that it just soundtracks most of it, before ending with the winners anthem. Ol’ Vangelis’ royalty cheque should make interesting reading…

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